It was a beautiful theme which emerged at the 2015 Marie Claire Success Summit, resonating deeply with an audience of over 300 women. From 22 year old Margaret Zhang, that glorious bundle of style and creativity, to Maile Carnegie, the dynamic 46 year old Managing Director of Google Australia / New Zealand, a strong message was delivered about the importance of defining our own success. More so, of the need to celebrate them. To high-five ourselves on the small day to day successes (like managing to get everyone fed and out the door on time), as well as the gold medal winning successes, as in the case of Lydia Lassila, Olympic champion.
Maile Carnegie made the salient point that “success is a journey, not a destination”. Too often we get so caught up in the status and prestige of our resumes, that we begin to let our current job titles define who we are, rather than the other way around. She reminded us that it was not just ok to turn a deaf ear to all the nay sayers and unsolicited ‘good advice’ in pursuit of our own dreams, but that it was our responsibility to do so. She stood as an example of how it is entirely plausible and possible to jump career tracks even when your resume and job title already reads ‘success’ to the outside world and to do so makes no logical sense – other than in your heart.
Lydia Lassila passed around her Gold and Bronze medals, allowing everyone to feel the divine weight of success, while she spoke honestly about the commitment it takes to follow that voice from within that calls to you. Even if it is asking you to enter a world from which women have traditionally been excluded and to “jump like a man” (or as I like to say, #jumplikeagirl) in the competitive and dangerous world of ariel skiing. At the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Lydia made history as the first woman to perform the quad-twisting, triple somersault. Failing to land it, she won Bronze, but the real success was that she smashed through the stereo-types. She stepped outside of her comfort zone and challenged the norms. And in doing so she set a new benchmark, not just for elite athletes, but for women around the world.
It was clear at the end of the night that the onus was on each of us to stop allowing others to make decisions about what we could and couldn’t do with our lives, and to begin creating successful lives on our own terms. Whether you started at the bottom and worked your way up, even in the face of a cancer diagnosis – like Sally Obermeder, or defy gravity and fly off the side of a mountain like Lydia, one thing is constant – “you have to find the fighter in you”.
Success doesn’t come to those who stand on the sidelines and wait. It takes passion and commitment. It takes falls (a lot in a sport like ariel skiing) and the courage and determination to get back up again, tend to your wounds, making a list while you heal, and then a willingness to reset the course and go at that barrier again.
As Maile pointed out, it also helps to have a champion in your corner. Such a simple truth and yet so often we surround ourselves with people who poke holes at the dreams we share, using the sharp end of their own fears.
A year ago I sat in the audience at the inaugural Marie Claire Success Summit and let my soul be nourished by the likes of Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Liz Broderick who encouraged me to be the woman that led the change. I went home and took the first steps towards launching this website with my warzone bestie, Junket.
Last night I had the privilege of listening to a new generation of women, who have breached the brackets of being Gen Y or Gen X to being Gen Success. Women who saw the barriers and marched straight for them, fearless and determined. As the lights came up and the applause faded out, I heard the door open on a new adventure… and I realised, it can only lead to success. On my terms.